2018 District 4 School Board Race Takes a Partisan Turn

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(Click to enlarge. District 4 WCSB candidate Andy Voyles and County Commission candidates Gregg Lawrence and Chad Story)

“I will represent at all times the entire school community and refuse to represent special interests or partisan politics.” – Article II, Section 2 of the WCSB Code of Ethics

Compared to the hyper-partisan 2016 WCSB elections, the summer of 2018 was shaping up to be relatively free from partisan politicking for the non-partisan School Board. There are only two contested WCSB seats; five candidates filed, but only three have been campaigning actively. 912, the Williamson County Republican Party, and Republican Women of Williamson County have been silent so far.

That changed for District 4 when former WCSB member Tim McLaughlin dropped out of the three-way race this month and endorsed Andy Voyles for the seat. McLaughlin is a 912er and serves on the board of the Franklin Clapham Group with chair Bev Burger, 2014 WCSB candidate Patsy Writesman, and 2014-18 Williamson County Commissioner Sherri Clark. The mission of the Franklin Clapham Group is to “promote the application of a Biblical worldview in all spheres of life, including but not limited to, self-conduct, family, church and civil government, using all means possible.”

WCSB candidate Andy Voyles stated on 4/5 that he aims to “exclude partisan politics from the school board” but later asserted that he stands for “conservative, family centric values” (6/22). He supports Republican candidate Chad Story and incumbent Gregg Lawrence for District 4 County Commissioner. Voyles even listed his WCRP membership on a July campaign mailer.

VoylesMailer

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Voyles is co-hosting a reception/fundraiser with District 4 County Commissioner Gregg Lawrence, District 4 Republican County Commission candidate Chad Story, and State Rep. Glen Casada. In 2016, Rep. Glen Casada’s CAS PAC contributed $300 each to WCSB candidates Joey Czarneski (D4) and Julie Mauck (D5). In 2014, Casada hosted School Board campaign kickoff events for Susan Curlee (resigned), Beth Burgos (resigned), Candy Emerson and Paul Bartholomew (resigned) and endorsed and contributed $500 to Dan Cash. Casada’s education platform has never been friendly toward WCS.

VoylesReception

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District 4 County Commissioner Kathy Danner

Voyles has been campaigning with County Commissioner Kathy Danner. Danner is not running for re-election. She has been a notorious WCS opponent and adversarial toward Dr. Mike Looney for years. In 2014, Danner endorsed Beth Burgos (resigned), Susan Curlee (resigned), and Candy Emerson ($150) in 2014, Laurie Cardoza-Moore in 2015, and Joey Czarneski in 2016.

VoylesDanner

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Danner

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In April 2014, Kathy Danner, District 4 County Commissioner, disclosed that there was a “team effort” coordinated by local community organizer Chuck Shelton and political consultant and Franklin Alderman Bev Burger (among others) to “vet” Williamson County School Board candidates. Andy Voyles qualified as a D4 WCSB candidate that year but later withdrew his name from consideration allowing former WCSB member Paul Bartholomew to run unopposed.

“I have always supported Tim,” Danner said. Believing McLaughlin was going to seek re-election, she asked the person she had thought would be the best fit for the seat — if available — not to file. “In my opinion, you don’t run against an incumbent unless there’s a reason to fire the incumbent.” When asked about her references to wanting to put a conservative and Christian candidate in the race, Danner said, “The school board votes on issues that touch on those things that are considered ideologically conservative, and that’s something I support.”

District 4 County Commissioner Gregg Lawrence

Gregg Lawrence has voted in lockstep with Commissioner Kathy Danner since he was elected in 2014. Early in his tenure, Lawrence encouraged education privatization schemes to save money in Williamson County Schools.

  • Voted against the property tax change and the county budget, July 2016
  • Received campaign contributions from donors who funded the 2016 slate of Tea Party/912-endorsed WCSB candidates and former WCSB members Susan Curlee and Beth Burgos in 2014
  • Thinks County Commissioners SHOULD have line item veto power over the WCS budget
  • Voted against Anne McGraw for interim D4 WCSB, September 2015
  • Voted against Nancy Garrett for interim D12 WCSB, November 2016
  • Voted against Bobby Hullett for interim D7 CC, February 2017

Like Danner and Lawrence, Voyles wants to reduce WCS costs. (For reference, of the top 10 districts in terms of academic performance (measured by ACT/TCAP), WCS has the lowest per pupil expenditure. WCS spends only $8,945 per student – $1,790 less than the average PPE of the top 10 districts. WCS also spends below the state average – $554 per student less than Tennessee’s average $9,499. Keep in mind that Tennessee is typically in the bottom ten states for per pupil expenditures.)

“In the private sector I’ve managed some pretty large budgets,” he said, noting that he’s been in the lending field for 20 years. “I want to take that experience and leverage it in this $350 million operating budget and see if I can come up with some cost reduction solutions.”

District 4 County Commission Candidate Chad Story

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(Click to enlarge. Chad Story foreground, Andy Voyles back right)

Franklin Alderman Bev Burger

Franklin Alderman Bev Burger also supports Andy Voyles. Recall that Burger worked hard to defeat 2014 WCSB incumbents and elect a secretly coordinated slate of her vetted and preferred candidates. She was a huge booster of Susan Curlee, Beth Burgos, Candy Emerson, and Dan Cash. In 2016, she contributed $125 to D4 WCSB candidate Joey Czarneski and hosted his campaign kickoff.

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Williamson Business PAC

The Williamson Business PAC endorsed Gregg Lawrence before the County Primary in May. In 2016, there were no overlaps between the Williamson Business PAC endorsements and those of the Tea Party/912 faction. This year, the PAC surprisingly endorsed both Lawrence and Commissioner Barb Sturgeon, who received campaign contributions from the donors who funded the 2016 slate of Tea Party/912-endorsed WCSB candidates and former WCSB members Susan Curlee and Beth Burgos in 2014.

Andy Voyles filed his candidate petition on 4/3. On 4/13, he donated $500 to the PAC – the only 2018 PAC donor through 6/30. The PAC endorsed Voyles over candidate Brad Fiscus on June 28.

VoylesBusinessPACDonation

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